Fred Parra is 11 years clean because he believes he was led to Pathway Society. Fred started his battle with addiction as a lifetime drug user; he was a “dope-fiend” who never realized that people could go through life without using drugs. Being from a rough neighborhood did not help his predilection for taking drugs and acting out with violent behavior. His need to “act like a badass” was behavior that Fred now identifies as signs of his insecurity. His drug dependency left him unemployable and mired in a toxic relationship. Domestic violence became his only form of expression. Fred’s three children were taken and put into the system. Fred was in and out of prison.
Fred says he was homeless and eating out of garbage cans when he thought for the first time, “I wasn’t supposed to be a loser like this. I knew I had greatness before me because I’m a leader”, but Fred knew he needed help. He prayed, asking “either kill me or help me.” An hour later he was arrested and sent to prison, where he was eventually sentenced to time at Pathway Society, Inc. His recovery, Fred says, “is owed to Pathway” and the people he met there.
Fred saw role models in the workers Pathway Society; he explains that “Adam worked there and carried himself real well, I admired him a lot” and says that the two remain good friends. Fred explains that he began to identify with the language of recovery and to learn a new way to live. Pathway Society provided a place where Fred could “get grounded”, a place where he was allowed to “slow down enough [to] come back to Earth” and “learn the tools [he needed] not to use [drugs].” Fred explains that the people at Pathway were the first to ever make him look at himself, and to help him come to a place where he could love himself. Because of the clean and structured live-in program, Fred felt safe enough at Pathway Society to have spiritual experiences and connect on a higher level with the 12 Step Program. There is a mural of the 12 Steps that Fred describes as a view through doors to the Heavens, a mural he says he would stare at, wondering “If I would ever get there myself.”
Fred says he gets emotional when talking about his experience, because his life has made “such a turn” for the better. It has been eleven years since Fred was at Pathway, and even after working the steps six times he says that every time he reads the literature he gets something new. He is devoted to going to meetings and sponsoring those who need the kind of help he received when he was just starting out. Fred has a career in sales and marketing at a medical lab company, where he worked his way up from being a currier. Fred made double child support payments until he could pay off what he owed. He says, “I see my daughters now”, obviously thankful to be a part of their lives. Fred proudly says that he’s married to a woman who calls him “Mr. Recovery”, and they have two children together. Fred describes a recent memory, when driving with his five daughters he was overwhelmed with emotion because he says, “I had all my girls.” Fred speaks with the utmost confidence when he says, “I’ve changed my life” and his gratefulness and appreciation for all he has now shines through in the pride he has of his work and his ability to save for a home, provide for his wife and children, and hopefully be an inspiration to others. Fred explains, “I’m not ashamed I’m in recovery, I was ashamed when I was in the disease.”